Written by: Marius Speider Sørum Moe
Microsoft’s xCloud preview expands. A lot.
During XO19, Microsoft announced expansions of its preview program for the much-hyped Project xCloud. For those who don’t know, xCloud is Microsoft’s work on game streaming services, which in some ways are similar to Google’s Stadia, but also have key differences.
xCloud is (or is going to be) offering at least two different ways of streaming games. One way is streaming games from the cloud itself, meaning that hardware in one of their Azure data centers will be running a game, and the video of it will be streamed to the device of your choice. This will allow for games like Halo, Forza, The Witcher 3, and Red Dead Redemption 2 to be played through your mobile phone or tablet while you are at a bus stop, or anywhere where you get the proper data bandwidth to your device.
The second feature of xCloud is to use your own hardware remotely, and stream games from your Xbox to another device. Say for instance that you are visiting a friend, and you want to play a game in co-op, but the game doesn’t have split-screen? Use a PC, tablet or mobile phone, and stream your Xbox gameplay to it. Easier than having to carry around the console itself.
First up, Microsoft has been doing previews with selected participants in the US, UK, and Korea, but in 2020 that preview will be expanded to include Canada, India, Japan, and Western Europe.
Second up, Microsoft is including support for third-party Bluetooth controllers, even for Sony’s Dualshock controllers. This is a consumer-friendly move that likely will give Microsoft some extra goodwill in their apparent attempt at providing for players who are platform-agnostic.
Third up, they have over 50 games available in the preview already, but Microsoft has stated that all (3500+)games on Xbox One will be working on xCloud, with over 1900 games currently in the works for the next few years. That last number does, of course, include all games that are currently known to Microsoft, and not only games from their 15 game studios.
Lastly, xCloud will also come to Xbox Game Pass, adding another incentive to subscribers of that service, and supposedly will also include all your previous achievements and cloud saves, allowing players to continue to be Xbox One players while technically not having to even own an Xbox.
The future of gaming might seem to at least partially be somewhere in the cloud, and Microsoft is aiming to be at the top of that cloud. I’m very interested to see how things will develop from here.